WSJ: Drug Importation is “Impractical, Unsafe and Unlikely” to Lower Prices

WSJ: Drug Importation is “Impractical, Unsafe and Unlikely” to Lower Prices

This week, Editorial Board writers for The Wall Street Journal examined a policy proposal in Florida to import prescription drugs from Canada. But as the writers warn, such a move would be “impractical, unsafe and unlikely” to reduce prices for patients and consumers at the pharmacy counter.

“When federal importation was floated in the early 2000s, an FDA analysis found that five of seven of America’s best-selling generic drugs for chronic conditions were cheaper than Canadian generics. One product didn’t have a generic available in Canada. This analysis is outdated but the basics are still relevant: Nine in 10 prescriptions in the U.S. are generic, versus roughly 70% in Canada, which means the U.S. enjoys much higher savings from generics.”

As for the safety concerns associated with drug importation, it’s often assumed that buying drugs from highly developed Western countries like Canada poses little to no danger. This claim, however, cannot be further from reality.

“Consider a February enforcement letter from the Food and Drug Administration to the Canadian company CanaRx, which FDA said facilitates ‘the distribution of unapproved new drugs and misbranded drugs to U.S. consumers.’ (CanaRx disputes FDA’s characterizations.) Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says that while foreign outfits ‘may state on their websites that its medicines are coming from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, etc., this is not necessarily always the case.’”

As BIO has pointed out before, while the Canadian government works to ensure the safety and authenticity of medicines entering their market that are intended for use by patients in Canada, they do not apply those standards for medicines intended for export only.

Policymakers should heed these concerns – and those of trusted law and safety experts – and reject this dangerous idea.

Read the full editorial here.

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